Sanitation staff’s new plea for not wearing GPS watches: Feeling giddy and sick

Hina Rohtaki


Sanitation staff’s new plea for not wearing GPS watches: Feeling giddy and sick

Chandigarh Municipal Commissioner K K Yadav had said that the objective of the GPS-enabled wrist watches was to record attendance of field staff shift-wise. (File)

FEW DAYS after Chandigarh Municipal Commissioner K K Yadav introduced GPS watches to track the movement of employees during working hours, sanitation workers have come up with a new reason not to wear the new gadgets. They say after wearing the watches, they get a sensation of “whirling” and feel giddy.

The employees in a written communication stated that “their workers can even die” after wearing these watches and it affects their privacy as there were attempts to make them “bonded labour”.

The decision to introduce the GPS watches was taken after several employees, including these sanitation workers, were found absent from their original designated place of work and were working at the private residences of politicians, bureaucrats and other retired officers. Most of them were found missing in one inspection by the Commissioner a few months ago. Now salaries will be calculated on the basis of these watches.

The sanitation workers say that they have given time till February 27 to the Municipal Commissioner to withdraw this decision, else they will begin an indefinite strike.

Speaking to Chandigarh Newsline, Krishan Chadha, president of the Sanitation Workers’ Union, said, “One Rampal started feeling giddy the moment he wore the watch. Also, even the women workers who wore felt like vomiting. Who will be responsible if anyone dies?”

Asked how these watches which are there to track them could make them ill, Chadha said, “These watches have sensors that are leading to all this. Earlier sensors were used in vehicles and now they are being used on we humans to track. We won’t let our workers wear these watches.”

He added, “In Panchkula similar incidents happened of workers falling ill and the decision was revoked. Now no sanitation worker is wearing these watches.”

However, Commissioner Yadav said that “he is wearing the watch daily and nothing has happened to him as it is just like a normal watch”.

In a written communication to the Commissioner, the union said that there are employees that have suffered swelling as well.

“These watches are affecting the health of the sanitation workers. We are getting complaints of many who have suffered swelling on their wrists, getting vomiting and whirling sensation. A worker can die also. Municipal Corporation is treating the employee like a slave,” the written statement said.

It was further stated that these watches “are affecting their privacy”. They stated that if this decision is not revoked, they will protest on February 27 in front of the Municipal Corporation office.

The civic body has obtained these watches on rent. Rent of all 4,000 watches will cost Rs 18.68 lakh to the corporation every month (rent of one watch Rs 467, including GST) and an amount of Rs 2.24 crore will be incurred every year.

Commissioner of the Municipal Corporation K K Yadav wore the first watch.

Yadav had said that the objective of the GPS-enabled wrist watches was to record attendance of field staff shift-wise, prevent and control misuse of manual attendance system, maintain transparency, accountability in operations and weed out the fake, duplicate, and false workers.

It was stated that this would completely replace the old manual attendance system and increase the production of workforce without any new employment or deployment of additional workforce. Attendance will be calculated based on the number of shifts attended by the worker and

will be consolidated for the entire month. Under the current system, the attendance of field staff of various wings is being recorded one or two times in.

How these watches work

These watches help track the movement of workers using a software where each and every official will be having his account. Information would be displayed about the movement of each official. Original designated place of work in zones have been entered and if the employee deviates from his designated place of work, it will start reflecting in his account and accordingly salary will be deducted for remaining ‘missing’ for that duration. Reports would be generated for each employee.

Express News Service